Masthead CMC Magazine November 1, 1995 / Page 11


Date: Tue, 24 Oct 95 14:54:02 -0300
From: James Dalziel 
Organization: University of Sydney, Australia
Subject: Review of Talbot


I was interested to read your review of "The Future Does Not Compute", 
and I share many similar views to both Talbot and yourself regarding the 
nature of computers in modern life. However, I am fascinated that 
neither you, nor Talbot, nor anyone else I have yet heard discuss the 
book have picked up on the problematic use of metaphor in the book.

While Talbot's central thesis that the questions that we should be 
asking about the use of computers are really questions about ourselves 
as human beings (not the technology), I am repeatedly surprised by his 
use of metaphors about computers which imply that computers are actually 
"human-like". To me this seems directly at odds with the view he holds, 
as the essential reflection we should gain from the book is not on 
computers' "human-ness", but on how we have allowed our "human-ness" to 
be subverted by computers. This being the case, I would have thought the 
last thing an author would want to do is use imagery which suggests the 
opposite, ie. that computers actually are like us. However, the metaphor 
of "The Djinn", his unusually broad concept of intelligence which allows 
computers as "Intelligent machines", and his discussion of computer 
"minds" all seem at odds with the ideas he presents.

I point this out because I believe that this creates an unnecessary 
weakness in an otherwise important and compelling argument. I would be 
interested on your thoughts on this.  

James Dalziel
Department of Psychology,
University of Sydney, Australia.

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